Hancock County News

Virtual Job Fair: Job opportunities in Hancock County

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development, WorkOne Central and the Greenfield Area Chamber of Commerce are hosting a virtual job fair highlighting dozens of job openings in Hancock County.

 

The virtual job fair is scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to noon EDT on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.

 

Participating employers will include BWI, Spectra Premium and Yamaha.

 

A variety of positions are available at each company. Presenters from each will discuss job opportunities in detail, along with benefits and how to apply. 

 

“Virtual job fairs offer employers and jobseekers a safe and effective way to make an employment match,” said Lance Ratliff, executive director of the Region 5 Workforce Board. “Local employers continue to struggle to find employees for their many open positions. The virtual job fair platform provides another means for recruiting as well as saving time and expense for all involved.”

 

Those interested in the job fair but unable to attend are encouraged to still register, as a recording will be sent via email the following day.

 

To register, visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3085779793356631567.

 

After registering, a confirmation email will be sent containing information about joining the webinar.

New Pal returns to virtual learning; Greenfield-Ctl looks to get students in classroom more in November

While one Hancock County school district looks forward to enacting a new schedule that will bring students into the building more, another is going back to virtual learning beginning Oct. 9.

 

Officials with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County alerted parents Thursday afternoon that due to the district’s current Covid-19 situation, which includes five positive cases across the district and the potential for active community spread, the Hancock County Health Department has recommended that New Palestine High School switch to virtual learning on Oct. 9.

 

While the rest of the schools in the district will be in the classroom on Oct. 9, all New Palestine schools will transition to virtual learning from Oct. 19 until Oct. 23 when students return from fall break. At this time, in-person classes will resume on Oct. 26, according to Wes Anderson, community relations and communications director for the district.

 

Anderson told Giant FM that the virtual instruction will be a full-day worth of instruction for students.

 

At Greenfield-Central Schools, students will be on a new schedule on Nov. 2 after spending months on a hybrid schedule, which featured students alternating between in-person instruction and virtual learning.  Under the new schedule, all students will report to school every day but Wednesdays, which will be a virtual learning day.


According to Greenfield-Central officials, there has not been a positive case among students in the last six weeks.

 

The moves by the school districts comes on the heels of another Covid-19 related death in Hancock County, bringing the total number of deaths related to the disease to 44.

 

Also, between Sept. 28 and Oct. 6, Hancock County added 188 new cases, bringing the total to 24,828. A total of 11 new cases were discovered between Oct. 5 and Oct. 6. 

Law enforcement in Hancock Co. searching for wanted felon

Law enforcement agencies from around Hancock County are currently seeking a wanted felon who fled from police on foot Thursday. 

 

Officers from the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police, Greenfield Police and the Johnson County Sheriff's Department are seeking Michael Riddle, 37. Riddle, who is a resident of Edinburgh, is described as armed and dangerous and is a white male standing 5-feet-7-inches tall and weighing 165 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue T-shirt and black sweatpants. 

 

Police are asking anyone who lives in and around the area of County Road 300 North and County Road 125 West to remain indoors, make sure their homes and windows are locked and report any suspicious activity immediately by calling 911. 

 

Riddle is wanted for failure to appear to a sentencing hearing in Johnson County on charges of dealing meth. 

Chris Lytle to fill New Palestine Town Council vacancy

Chris Lytle has always been a fighter.


From making a name for himself inside the octagon in UFC to promoting anti-bullying to fighting fires as a member of the Indianapolis Fire Department, Lytle has put himself forward to fight. And, that continues albeit in a different format, as Lytle was selected this week to fill a vacancy on the New Palestine Town Council.

 

Lytle was the only person to fill out the paperwork and meet the requirements by the Hancock County Republican Party and will fill a vacancy left by Jan Jarson, who resigned her seat last month under a cloud of impropriety and questions.

 

“This is fantastic. I’ve been involved in other ways, volunteered in the wrestling program, done the anti-bullying program, but this is an opportunity to help the area I live in. I am excited to be in there and excited to do what I can to see New Pal get what it needs to move forward,” Lytle told Giant FM moments after being sworn in.

 

This is not the first time Lytle has thrown his hat into the political ring, as he ran for the Indiana State Senate in 2012, finishing second to Michael Crider in a three-person Republican Primary with 30.1 percent of the vote.


During that race, Lytle billed himself as a fighter for Indiana.


While the landscape has changed, Lytle maintains his purpose has not, telling Giant FM he will continue to fight.

 

“This is different to me. This is very local and it is the primary area I live in. It’s been driving me nuts the last few months seeing people waste taxpayer dollars and what has happened in New Palestine with people in public service only for their benefit. I decided I wanted to do something about it. I love my town and the area I live in,” said Lytle, who moved his family to New Palestine 15 years ago.

 

After talking with several people, Lytle decided he could no longer sit on the sidelines.

 

“I am not a believer in just complaining. I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is, and try to actually step up and do what I think it is best. I feel like we are getting people in there not interested in personal gain. I want to make sure people in there are looking out for the town’s interest. I want to help New Palestine grow, get the money appropriated for the right places. Tired of the frivolous spending and waste of taxpayer dollars. Everything will have to be accounted for, and I have to be able to understand why we need things that are being asked for,” Lytle said.

 

Fellow council member Angela Fahrnow welcomed the addition of Lytle.

 

“I am so excited to work with him. I feel like he and I have the same view in doing what’s best for the town,” Fahrnow told Giant FM. 

New Palestine woman killed in two-car crash

A New Palestine woman has died following a two-car accident on U.S. 52 just east of New Palestine. 

 

According to the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, deputies were called to a head-on crash in the 3500 block of West U.S. 52 between a Kia Optima and a Chevrolet sedan. 

 

Katherine Weaver, 30, New Palestine, was declared dead at the scene. She was a passenger in the Chevrolet. 

According to police, the Kia was eastbound on U.S. 52 and turned into the path of the Chevrolet, which was traveling westbound.  James Ridenour, 40, New Palestine, was the driver of the Chevrolet and attempted to avoid the crash, but was not successful. 

 

The Kia was driven by Andrew Akers, 26, Greenfield, who was transported to IU Methodist with broken bones and leg trauma. 

 

According to police, Weaver leaves behind four children, who range in age from 5 to 13. Ridenour is the father of two of the children. 

Greenfield Granite case continues in court

A Hancock County business that was the scene of a death investigation in recent weeks and has found itself in the midst of legal issues caught a bit of a reprieve by the Hancock County Circuit Court.

 

Circuit Court Judge Scott Sirk recently granted a request for a preliminary injunction against Greenfield Granite in a civil case. In the case, the state’s Attorney General accuses Greenfield Granite of taking customers’ money without completing work.


As a result of the injunction, Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office will have two weeks to conduct a thorough inventory, and nothing can be removed from the office.


According to court records, Greenfield Granite’s former owner Amie Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.


In addition, the Greenfield Police are conducting an active investigation after more than 70 customers filed reports with the department, alleging they paid for gravestones but never received a finished product.

 

Greenfield Granite was the site of a death investigation last month as officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The female was later identified as Strohl and an investigation ruled the death a suicide. 

DeBruler Imaging owner Dave Fincher passed away

DeBruler Imaging owner Dave Fincher passed away Wednesday morning. 

 

Fincher’s wife, Donna, posted that Dave was a wonderful husband, father and Pop to his grands. She went on to say that “Dave didn’t know a stranger and could carry on a conversation about anything.” He loved what he did and it was his passion.  Dave could be seen anywhere from the schools to a baseball field taking team and individual pictures across many counties. 

 

The DeBruler Imaging studio will be closed for the next week or so as they deal with the passing of Dave. 

Silver Alert: Dorothy Rogers, Greenfield

A Statewide Silver Alert has been declared.

 

The Greenfield Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Dorothy Rogers, an 87 year old white, female, 5 feet 4 inches tall, 157 pounds, grey hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a jean jacket and capri pants.

 

She is driving a black 2018 Buick Regal with Indiana plate D898ZK.

 

Dorothy is missing from Greenfield,  and was last seen on Tuesday, September 29, at 11:00 pm.  She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

 

If you have any information on Dorothy Rogers, contact the Greenfield Police Department at 317-477-4400 or 911.

New Palestine Town Council still with open seat

A vacancy continues on the New Palestine Town Council and it appears it could last a little longer.

 

Councilwoman Jan Jarson tendered her resignation several weeks ago after first being elected in 2012 and being re-elected twice. Her resignation created an empty seat that must be filled by the town of New Palestine and the Hancock County Republican Party through a party caucus.


However, there is one glaring issue – nobody has come forward to fill the vacancy.


The caucus is slated for 6:30 p.m. on October 5 at Town Hall. The party has 30 days from the vacancy, which happened on Sept. 17, to fill the seat. Those interested in filing the seat need to submit paperwork declaring their intention to Janice Silvey, chair of the Hancock County Republican Party, by 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.


In order to be eligible for the seat, the person must live within the town limits, have the paperwork filed out and notarized.


It will then be up to a four person committee to vote on who will fill the seat.

 

Jarson cited a change in priorities as the main reason for her resignation in September. In a letter she sent to the town council and county clerk of courts Lisa Lofgreen, Jarson wrote, “I am writing to inform you that it has become increasingly apparent that I cannot devote the necessary time and energy I feel is necessary to the office of Town Council Member. I have spent a great deal of time and thought before arriving at this decision and find that my priorities should be with my family and serving my community in other less stressful occupations. I have enjoyed the honor and privilege of serving our community and look forward to the future.”

 

Jarson’s resignation also brought an end to a series of issues between her and fellow council members, tracing back to January.

 

In January, Jarson voted against censuring former town-clerk Tonii Pyle, who also resigned recently. In August, town officials discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and Jarson all had a hand in making modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave. 

Walmart new E-Commerce Fulfillment Center with 1,000 jobs at new Hancock Co. facility to be company's largest in US

Walmart finalized plans today to establish a new fulfillment center in Hancock County and create up to 1,000 new jobs by the end of 2025. The facility will provide additional online fulfillment capabilities for the company as it continues to meet increasing online demand from customers. At 2.2 million square feet, this facility will be Walmart’s largest e-commerce fulfillment center in the U.S.

"It gives me a great deal of pride to see Walmart growing and expanding rapidly in the Hoosier state," said Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger. "As the Crossroads of America, we are perfectly positioned to support Walmart as they secure increasing customer demand and continue contributing to our state's economy, while providing new jobs to 1,000 Hoosiers in the process." 

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company will invest approximately $600 million to construct and equip its new facility on approximately 204 acres at 5300 W. 500 N. in an unincorporated part of Hancock County north of Mount Comfort and south of McCordsville. The new, state-of-the-art facility will allow Walmart to expand its e-commerce operations for both its own online inventory and recently-announced third-party fulfillment, Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), for vendors who hire the company to store, pack and ship items for customers. Construction is slated to begin this month, and the company expects to start fulfillment and distribution in the fall of 2022, reaching full operational capacity by spring of 2024.  

“We’re pleased to work with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation on this project and appreciate their support to help bring new development and jobs to central Indiana, which is a key market for Walmart,” said Steve Miller, Walmart senior vice president, fulfillment operations. “We look forward to utilizing this fulfillment center to help meet increasing online shopping demands and ultimately serve our customers.”

As Walmart continues to expand online, the creation of WFS, powered by Walmart's state-of-the-art supply chain capabilities, allows Walmart.com Marketplace sellers to grow their businesses through WFS, managing shipping, returns and customer service. Business owners are able to send inventory to Walmart fulfillment centers, where the company stores the products securely and prepares them for shipping when an order is placed.

Walmart, which employs approximately 1.5 million associates nationwide including more than 41,000 in Indiana, will begin hiring in the spring of 2022 for positions in receiving, picking, packing, shipping and management. Interested applicants may apply online.

“We are very, very pleased that Walmart has found Hancock County, and the Mt. Comfort Road Corridor in particular, to be ideal for their operations,” said Hancock County Council President Bill Bolander. "Both Hancock County and the Hancock Economic Development Council will continue to work with Walmart to ensure a smooth and successful launch and continuing operation of their facility with regard to workforce, infrastructure and overall economic development improvements within the county.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Walmart Fulfillment Services LLC up to $1.25 million in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans and up to $4.75 million in conditional tax credits from the Hoosier Business Investment (HBI) tax credit program based on the company’s planned capital investment in Indiana. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired and investments are made. The Hancock County Council and the Hancock County Redevelopment Commission approved additional incentives at the request of the Hancock Economic Development Council. Duke Energy offered additional incentives.

Greenfield plans to proceed with Halloween

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging Americans to skip trick-or-treating, but police in Greenfield have decided to move forward with the Halloween tradition anyway.

 

The police chief in Greenfield, Jeff Rasche, says he thinks that the people in his area could take part in holiday festivities without causing an outbreak.  Rasche says he decided to move forward with trick-or-treating before the CDC released its decision on the matter but is sticking with his decision for now.

 

 

On Tuesday the CDC posted guidelines on its website labeling traditional trick-or-treating and other common Halloween celebrations “high risk” this year. Instead, they suggested that people leave pre-made goodie bags on their front porch for kids to get rather than handing out candy themselves or leaving out a bowl for kids to dig through.

 

These are the activities the CDC said to avoid to help prevent the spread of coronavirus:

 

-Participating in traditional trick-or-treating where treats are handed to children who go door to door.

 

-Having trunk-or-treat where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.

 

-Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.

 

-Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.

 

-Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household.

 

-Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors.

 

-Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19.

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Hancock County has reported more than 900 COVID-19 cases with nearly 16,000 people tested.

 

Rasche also said that he spoke with the mayor and the Hancock County Health Department about his decision. He said that he has been in contact with other officers in the surrounding area and he is under the impression that most, if not all of them, will also be moving forward with similar trick-or-treating plans. He says he is still encouraging people to wear an actual face mask even if they’re in a costume.

 

“We are not going to encourage large groups to be out trick-or-treating together or large groups going to people’s houses. You know, maintain social distancing,” Rasche said.

 

Greenfield plans to release more guidelines for families as Halloween nears.

AG Curtis Hill sues Greenfield company accused of taking consumers' money without providing gravestones

Attorney General Curtis Hill on Friday sued a Greenfield monument company accused by consumers of taking their money without providing gravestones they ordered. This civil action against the company, Greenfield Granite, seeks consumer restitution and costs under the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.

 

Attorney General Hill also filed a request for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order aimed at preventing the company from removing, selling or transferring assets until the legal process plays out.

 

As of Sept. 15, 2020, the Greenfield Police Department had taken approximately 70 reports in which consumers reported that Greenfield Granite failed to properly fulfill orders. Recently, officers have observed individuals at the business turning away customers while workers appear to be removing items from the business.

 

“We have laws in place to protect Hoosiers when businesses abandon their obligations to customers,” Attorney General Hill said. “In this case, we want to ensure that any consumers harmed by this company’s business practices receive refunds or, if they prefer, have their orders fulfilled if products remain available.”

 

Greenfield Granite’s area of specialty makes this case especially troubling, Attorney General Hill added.

 

“No one with an ounce of compassion wants to hear about a business taking advantage of grieving customers trying to achieve closure after losing loved ones,” he said.

 

Attorney General Hill expressed appreciation to the Greenfield Police Department and Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton for their investigatory assistance.

 

Consumers who have complaints regarding Greenfield Granite should file a consumer complaint online at https://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/ or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-382-5516.

 

In a related story, a death investigation into a Greenfield business owner was concluded approximately three weeks ago, according to officials with the Greenfield Police Department.  Greenfield Police have ruled the shooting death of Amie Strohl, 50, as a suicide.

 

Officers were dispatched earlier this week to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield. Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

 

 

Jan Jarson resigns from New Palestine Town Council

For the second time this month, a New Palestine elected official has tendered their resignation.


Council woman Jan Jarson has resigned her position after first being elected in 2012 and being re-elected twice. She made it official in a letter to town council and county clerk of courts Lisa Lofgreen.

 

The letter states, “I am writing to inform you that it has become increasingly apparent that I cannot devote the necessary time and energy I feel is necessary to the office of Town Council Member. I have spent a great deal of time and thought before arriving at this decision and find that my priorities should be with my family and serving my community in other less stressful occupations. I have enjoyed the honor and privilege of serving our community and look forward to the future.”

 

Fellow council member Angie Fahrnow told Giant FM that she wishes Jarson the best.

 

“I think it was for the best, and I wish her well,” Fahrnow said of Jarson’s resignation.

 

The resignation brings an end to a dark cloud that has been over the town council and town since January, when the town council transformed from three members to five. Jarson lost her bid to serve as town council president.  

 

Also in January, Jarson voted against censuring former town clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle, who also offered her resignation earlier this month. In August, town officials discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave. The changes included alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.

“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.

 

Despite the last few months, Fahrnow tells Giant FM she believes the town and council are now headed in a “positive direction.” As for winning back the trust of residents who may still have questions about their government, Fahrnow said she understands.

 

“Our focus is to do what’s in the best interest for the town. I think trust is earned. A lot of changes have happened, and I know there is uncertainty with some people. As long as the council does the right thing and keeps the town’s best interest at heart, the trust will be there,” she said.

 

It is now up to the Hancock County Republican Party to find a replacement for Jarson. The party has 30 days to fill the vacancy through a party caucus. Once the date of the caucus is set, candidates will have 72 hours to submit paperwork declaring their intention. 

Greenfield Main Street hosts Chalk Fest on Saturday

Are you an artist?  Doesn't really matter.  You can be one Saturday at an annual event in Greenfield.

 

Greenfield Main Street Executive Director Debra Smith talks about Chalk Fest.

 

 

Smith says they will make the necessary fixes to deal with Covid-19.

 

 

A theme and prizes are in play.

 

 

Chalk Fest is Saturday from 3 – 6 pm.

New Palestine man faces federal charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced Thursday that Bruce Wayne Ford, 47, New Palestine, has been charged with eleven counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.

 

“The financial investors in this case placed their hard earned money into the hands of someone whom they thought they could trust, oftentimes the majority of their life savings,” said Minkler. “Instead, the victim’s money fell into the hands of a thief who cares about no one but himself and his interests. Justice will prevail and hopefully restore some trust back to the victims.”

 

Ford, was arrested at his home Friday, September 11, and had his initial appearance on September 16, in the federal courthouse in Indianapolis. Through his company, Ford Financial and Insurance Services, he devised a scheme to defraud his investors by means of materially false statements and misrepresentations. As alleged in the Complaint, rather than invest his clients’ money as promised, Ford wired or transferred investor funds to Ford’s financial accounts to use for his own personal expenditures.

 

Ford’s illegal scheme to steal his clients’ investment funds was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Indiana Secretary of State’s office, and the Greenfield Police Department.

 

“Investment fraud schemes ultimately lead to the loss of innocent victims’ hard-earned money. The victims expected the defendant to protect their future, not use their money to fund his personal lifestyle,” said FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan. “The FBI will continue to work closely with our partner agencies to investigate these types of crime and ensure criminal activity is identified, investigated, and disrupted.”

 

“Ford was not registered to sell securities with the Secretary of State’s office, a basic requirement,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson. “If one investor had checked his registration, his entire scheme would have crumbled. I encourage everyone to check their investor’s registration prior to exchanging any money. It’s a simple safeguard that could protect your retirement nest egg.”

 

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who is prosecuting this case for the government, Ford faces up to 25 years’ in federal prison if convicted of the charges.

Two voting centers added in Hancock Co.

Voters in Hancock County will have two more voting locations on Election Day thanks to the Hancock County Election Board.

 

Those wishing to cast a ballot on election day will be able to do so at the McCordsville City Hall and Cross of Grace Lutheran Church in New Palestine. The changes bring the total number of voting centers up to 10, but the county has used as many as 12 in the past.

 

Other polling places include: Hancock County Courthouse Annex, main branch of the Hancock County Public Library, Sugar Creek branch of the Hancock County Public Library, NineStar Connect North, Fortville Community Center, Buck Creek Township Fire Department, Nameless Creek Camp and Event Center, and Wilkinson Church of Christ. Anyone who is registered and a resident of Hancock County can vote at any of the polling places early or on Election Day.

 

Locally, the November election was decided in the May primary as no Democratic candidates will be on the ballot for county-wide seats.

 

Voters will have a say in state representative, state senator, U.S. House Representative, governor, attorney general, and the presidential race. In addition, there are school board races that will appear on the ballot. 

Woman rescued by Greenfield PD before engine explodes

A woman is recovering in the hospital after a Greenfield Police patrolman rescued her from a burning car.

 

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, at around 1:30 a.m., GPD Patrolman Blake Crull was on patrol when he passed by a burning, upside down car in the 4200 block of East US 40. Inside the car was Heather Fischer, 36, who was trapped and badly hurt.

 

Crull was able to pull Fischer through a side window to safety. Seconds later, the car’s engine exploded.  Fischer was taken to the hospital.

 

The driver of the car who crashed into Fischer, Arturo Casimiro, 46, was arrested and taken to the Hancock County Jail. He’s been charged with two DUIs and one count of Driving While Suspended.

New Palestine Clerk - Treasurer resigns amid controversy

For the better part of nine months, New Palestine Town Council member Angie Fahrnow warned fellow council members not once, not twice, but on many instances about potential nepotism issues between clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle and former town manager David Book, who was Pyle’s father-in-law.


In the end, the council learned its lesson as Pyle has officially tendered her resignation in a move that will still cost the town and continues a fractured relationship between town leaders and Pyle.


In a statement, Pyle, who delivered her resignation to Hancock County Clerk Lisa Lofgreen, said that her office had tried to bridge a gap with the current town council.

 

“For the last nine months, the clerk-treasurer’s office has been trying to bridge a gap to create a healthy work environment with the current town council that the town employees and voters expect and deserve. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. Pursuant to Indiana Code 5-8-3.5-1, Notification is being presented to the Hancock County Clerk of Courts of my resignation of the office of the New Palestine Clerk Treasurer, effective 9/9/2020,” Pyle wrote.

 

The town will now have to select someone to fill the remaining years on Pyle’s term. The position will be advertised and town council will be holding public interviews September 23 at 7:00 p.m. Pyle ran unopposed for the clerk-treasurer position in 2019 after working under former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss.

 

The resignation comes on the heels of the discovery that Pyle had abandoned her office earlier this month, cleaning it out and locking up important town files in a cabinet the town does not have a key for. In addition, the council discovered the town’s employees were not paid on time.

 

While Fahrnow voiced concerns multiple times, she took no joy in the resignation, telling Giant FM she does not feel good about the situation.

 

“I never feel good about situations like this because in the end the town is the one paying the price. Furthermore, I don’t feel good about the fact that several unanswered questions remain. There is still town property we do not have back. I am upset that she got away with as much as she did. I am ready to move forward and put a positive light back on our small community and focus on the things that are important for this town,” Fahrnow said.

 

A source speaking with Giant FM on the condition of anonymity said Pyle deleted all of the town’s payroll documents, including the backup and then scrubbed the computer.


“She deleted it all. Council is missing files, signed ordinances and checks,” the source told Giant FM.

 

The resignation could bring about an end to what has been a frosty relationship between council and the clerk-treasurer’s office.


Earlier this year, the council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.  In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.

 

At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.
Then last month, the town council learned Pyle had locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work began on the 2021 budget.


At the time, Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.


“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.

 

To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.

 

“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.

 

And, there is a current investigation by the Indiana State Police regarding ghost employment and allegations that Pyle illegally obtained signatures on her petition to run for office while working and using town property.

 

Fahrnow said she hopes positives will come out of everything the town has dealt with.

 

“I hope that all of this has brought to light the bigger picture, which is the amount of control the state of Indiana gives to the clerk treasurer and the damage they can do to a town. You can have no financial background and run for clerk-treasurer and not be responsible for any of your mistakes. There should be better laws in place or it should be moved to an appointed position,” Fahrnow said. 

Death of Greenfield woman declared a suicide

A death investigation into a Greenfield business owner has been concluded, according to officials with the Greenfield Police Department.


Greenfield Police have ruled the shooting death of Amie Strohl, 50, as a suicide.

 

Officers were dispatched earlier this week to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield. Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

Greenfield business owner found dead; gunshot wound

The Greenfield Police Department continues to investigate the death of a resident after being dispatched Tuesday to Greenfield Granite Co. Inc, 952 West Main St., Greenfield.

 

Upon arrival, officers located a 50-year-old female deceased at the business. The woman was later identified as Amie Strohl, owner. According to Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche, Strol was found inside the business shortly after 9:30 a.m. Tuesday and had died from a gunshot wound.

 

The Greenfield Police are investigating everything concerning her death, including the possibility that she took her own life. In a news release, the department stated no signs of foul play had been found and there was no concerns for danger to the public.

 

According to court records, Strohl was to have appeared in Hancock County Superior Court 2 for a civil case. In addition, she was a defendant in another case brought forward by IMC Credit Services. Court records show that a judgement was granted to IMC Credit Services after Strohl did not show for several appearances.

 

The Greenfield Police also confirmed they were engaged in an active investigation against Stohl, but no criminal charges had been filed. 

Theft charge filed against New Pal Clerk - Treasurer; town officials contact state leaders for direction

An all-time low.

 

That is how New Palestine Town Council member Angie Fahrnow sums up the council’s relationship with Clerk-Treasurer Tonii Pyle following the town’s latest drama between the two.


On Thursday, Sept. 3, the relationship, which has been strained already, hit an all-time low as Fahrnow filed a theft charge with police against Pyle. The allegation comes on the heels of the town council discovering Pyle had cleaned out her office and had locked up important town files in a cabinet that the town does not have a key for.


Fahrnow told Giant FM that the discovery led to more aggravation.


“I was more aggravated than shocked. Why did she change the locks and not provide a key? The files are still there locked in a cabinet with David Book’s obit attached, and we do not have a key. When we asked if she had a key, she stated “no,” and then we had to pay for a locksmith to open a door to an empty office,” Fahrnow said.


Fahrnow was asked if anyone had noticed Pyle missing and not coming into her office for work. Town Hall has been opened for several months after it being shut down and having limited hours during the Covid-19 pandemic.


“We are told she can conduct her office hours as she sees fit, which is fine, but on an unsecured computer is not okay,” Fahrnow said.


In addition, council discovered the town’s employees were not paid on time this week.


“I felt helpless when the employees started calling and asking about their checks. There was nothing we could do,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


The latest discovery just adds to the issues between council and its clerk-treasurer since the beginning of the year.  Earlier this year, council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.  In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.


At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.


Then last month, the town council learned Pyle had locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work began on the 2021 budget.


At the time, Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.


“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.


“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.


And, there is a current investigation by the Indiana State Police regarding ghost employment and allegations that Pyle illegally obtained signatures on her petition to run for office while working and using town property.


Fahrnow is tired of the games.


“I am not at all surprised we are still having issues. What is surprising to me is the State Board of Accounts is telling us they will not do anything until the next audit and they will address the issues at that time. That is in three years. Our attorney is telling us she is an elected official and we have no say in how she runs her office. Our town will be sunk if we stand by and let this continue for the next three years,” said Fahrnow, who added she has reached out to Indiana State Senator Mike Crider, the Open Access Counselor and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill on the matter.


Pyle is up for re-election in 2023 and the only way she can be removed from office prior to that is if she is convicted of a crime or resigns.


“If there is enough evidence to file a charge, she will have to step down and then the hunt for a new clerk will commence,” Pyle said.

Jon Hooker fills Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County board seat

The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County will have a new face on its board this week as Jon Hooker has been appointed to replace Dr. Craig Wagoner, Sr.


The appointment comes on the heels of Wagoner’s resignation after seven years on the board, and for Hooker, he will be representing District 3, which is an at-large position that represents both District 1 and 2 in the western part of the district. Wagoner’s term was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2022 and Hooker will serve the remainder of the term and be eligible for election to the seat in November 2022.


“I’m very excited to be selected. Having grown up here and chosen to raise my kids here, I have had a strong urge to serve our community and give back. Joining this fantastic school board for me is about working with a great group of leaders. We have a lot on our plates right now, and I look forward to this opportunity,” Hooker said.


Hooker will join board members Dan Walker, Matt Ackerman, Laura Haeberle and Brian McKinney when he is sworn in Monday, Aug. 24.

Hancock Co. adds polling places for November election

When voters return to the polls in November in Hancock County, they will be treated to more polling sites.
 

The measure is designed to not create the same issues voters faced in the June Republican Primary, as voters stood in long lines well past the 6 p.m. deadline.


The Hancock County Election Board approved a total of eight polling places and election schedule.
Voters will be able to turn out to vote at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex, Hancock County Public Library Sugar Creek and Main Branch locations, Buck Creek Township Fire Department, NineStar Connect North, Nameless Creek Camp and Event Center, Fortville Community Center and Wilkinson Christian Church.


In addition, there are no contested county-wide races as the winners from the Republican primary will be running unopposed in November.


The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 5 and applications for voting by mail are due by Oct. 22. Early voting will begin Oct. 6 and continue until Nov. 2 in Hancock County.

Historic plane on display this weekend in Hancock Co.

The Island Doll, a Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon Bomber, will be on display for tours at the Indianapolis Regional Airport, 3867 N. Aviation Way, Greenfield.

 

The plane will be on display 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22 and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

 

For more information about the plane, visit amhf.org.

New Pal Town Council, clerk-treasurer still dealing with issues

The divide between the New Palestine Town Council and its clerk-treasurer grew even larger recently as town officials discovered two huge issues pertaining to the clerk-treasurer.

 

First, she has locked several town officials out of the town’s digital financial database as work begins on the 2021 budget. At a council meeting earlier this month, clerk-treasurer Tonii Pyle offered no explanation as to why access was cut off to officials, including the town’s police chief and town manager.


The move did not sit well with council member Angie Fahrnow, who told Giant FM, she is “tired of the games.”


“I am very disappointed, but I am not surprised. We have an employee that the clerk-treasurer has allowed continued access. I’m tired of the games. It makes our job much more difficult, and it takes away from the other town needs,” Fahrnow said.  


Fahrnow said by Pyle locking department heads out of the programs, it creates more work.
“It’s an extra inconvenient step to have her print for the department heads, but we continue to find ways to keep moving past the obstacles. She has cost the town thousands of dollars getting help to do her job. That isn’t even including her requested attorney fees,” Fahrnow told Giant FM.


To further complicate matters, town officials also discovered that Pyle, former clerk-treasurer Becky Hilligoss, former town manager Dave Book and current council member Jan Jarson all played a role in modifications to the town’s employee handbook pertaining to return to work provisions for employees returning from medical leave.


The changes include alternate job descriptions for light duties with medical exceptions. It is believed Hilligoss put the changes in the handbook.


Fahrnow again said she was disappointed, but not surprised.


“There were a lot of things that were being done behind Clint Bledsoe and Brandee Bastin’s back,” Fahrnow said, adding there is documentation stating that Jarson was aware of the changes.


Earlier this year, the council voted in favor of censuring Pyle.


In making the motion, councilman Bill Niemier laid out several issues the council has had with Pyle since January, alleging that Pyle has “engaged in conduct and actions that are contrary to, and directly interfere with, the orderly functioning of Town business.”


“The residents of New Palestine deserve better and such deficiencies need to be documented. If Tonii Pyle were an employee of the Town, I would be moving that her employment be terminated, but that is not an available option as she is an elected official. Therefore, my motion, based upon these facts and circumstances, is that the Town Council formally censure Tonii Pyle. Although there may be few practical implications from being formally censured, and the same cannot and does not remove Tonii Pyle from her elected position as the Clerk-Treasurer, such motion does in fact create a formal and permanent record of Tonii Pyle’s failure to properly perform the functions of her elected office,” Niemier said shortly before the vote.


At that meeting, council voted 3-2 in favor of censuring Pyle. Fahrnow and Brandee Bastin joined Niemier in favor of voting yes, while council members Bledsoe and Jarson voted no.


Despite the rift, Fahrnow said she hopes council can work with Pyle moving forward, a request she has made numerous times.


“I would love to try and work with her and will always keep that door open. She reached out and asked to meet and mend bridges and then she took access away from our department heads,” Fahrnow said.